Lightroom 5: 01 Organizing Your Photos

with Tim Grey
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Lightroom 5: 01 Organizing Your Photos
Video duration: 0s 3h 46m Beginner


The first step to having a great photo collection? Organizing it. Lightroom's Library and Map modules are great for reviewing, labeling, and adding location data to your digital photographs, all of which make it easier for you to locate the image your need exactly when you need it. Tim Grey reviews both modules and also shows how to import photos into your catalog, make sure your work is backed up, and quickly group related images with Smart Collections.

This course was created by Tim Grey. We're honored to host this training in our library.

Topics include:
  • Importing images
  • Setting up Lightroom preferences and catalog settings
  • Backing up your catalogs
  • Reviewing images with the Grid and Loupe views
  • Renaming photos
  • Adding flags, star ratings, color labels, and keywords to images
  • Mapping photos
  • Working with image stacks
  • Locating images

Folder structure considerations

- [Voiceover] When you launch Lightroom for the first time with a new catalog you're not going to see any of your photos because none of your photos have been imported into the Lightroom catalog. And in fact, Lightroom will initially prompt you to click the "Import" button to begin. In other words, you need to import photos in order to get started with any tasks within Lightroom. But before you actually import any of your existing photos into your Lightroom catalog, I strongly encourage you to take a look at your basic folder structure to make sure that your images are organized at least at a very basic level right from the start.

Let me show you what I mean. We'll take a look at a storage device that has some of my photos already stored on it. And first and foremost, I wanna talk about the storage device that you're actually using. You can certainly choose among a wide variety of different devices in terms of storing your photos. In most cases that's going to mean some form of a hard drive. That could be a hard drive that's inside your computer or an external hard drive that you can move from one computer to another. Regardless of the specific storage device that makes the most sense for you and your personal workflow, I strongly recommend having a single location for all of your photos.

So, for example, if you use the pictures folder on your internal hard drive for your computer you'll want to store all of your photos in that particular location. If you're using an external hard drive for your photos or perhaps a folder on one of your external hard drives that should be the location where every single photo or video clip that you ever capture belongs. By having a single location for all of your photos you'll always know where your photos are. When you're looking for a particular photo, for example, you don't need to start your search by trying to remember which specific external hard drive that image is stored on.

So, in this case, I'm using an external hard drive called photos and on that hard drive I have multiple folders. Naturally, I don't want to place all of my images directly onto that hard drive. I want to segment the images essentially by utilizing a folder structure, and that provides me with a very basic level organizational system before I even get started with Lightroom. And in fact, I'll be able to take advantage of that folder structure within Lightroom as well among the wide variety of other tools for organizing our photos.

You can see here that the folder names reflect, in general, the contents of the images. So I have a "Flowers March 2012" folder which presumably contains images that were captured in March of 2012 and presumably the subject is flowers. When it comes to naming the folder that you'll use to store a given collection of photos, I recommend thinking very carefully about the folder structure you'll use. Specifically, when you're looking for a given image where will you look? If I asked you where you could find your favorite sunset photo or your favorite bird photo or perhaps your favorite sports photo, where would you find that image? In other words, what comes to mind? For your favorite sunset you might think of a particular location or a event.

For a given sports photo you might think of a particular sporting event. The point is that you'll think about something in particular when you're thinking about the image. And generally speaking, I recommend that whatever that something in particular is that you use that as the name of the folder. This could mean a wide variety of different things for different photographers. For a wedding photographer, for example, that folder name is most likely going to reflect the name of the couple that was being photographed. For a commercial photographer, the folder name might be the client who hired them to capture specific images.

And for a travel photographer, naturally location is probably going to be relatively prominent in that folder name. But the specifics will vary from one photographer to another. The key is to be very thoughtful about that folder structure. So looking at the examples here. The flowers folder, for example, I'm not really going to be thinking flowers when I think of these specific images that are contained within this folder. More specifically, I'm going to think about a visit to Central Park in New York City when I was photographing flowers in the springtime.

And so I'll go ahead and click on the name of this folder so that I can rename that folder. And I'm going to call this "Central Park Flowers" instead of just flowers and I'll also just add a dash here to separate the month and year from the name of the folder itself. So now "Central Park Flowers-March 2012." For me personally, I'm not really going to remember the date. I just don't remember when I captured specific images, but I do like to have a date at least a month and year associated with the folder so that if I revisit the same location multiple times I'll know which images are from which visit.

Now, of course, if I perform a search for flowers I could still find the "Central Park Flowers" folder based on that search, but when I browse my folders I'm more likely to go to the C's, in other words, to look for Central Park because that's what comes to mind when I'm thinking about those flower images. Similarly, each of these other folders could also used to be renamed. My "Czech Republic Trip," for example, was really a trip to Prague. In my mind I think of that as my Prague trip so I can just call this folder "Prague" with the month and year, for example.

When I'm looking for images from San Francisco, naturally, I'm not going to be looking for "Visit to" and so I can take off the "Visit to" from that folder name so that it just starts off with San Francisco. And that ensures that when I'm looking for images from San Francisco I'll be able to find them exactly where they're expected. And finally, my "Workshop at MMW" folder. When I think of these images I'm really thinking of Maine, granted, I was teaching a workshop that week. And that workshop was at Maine Media Workshops, MMW.

But I'm going to think, first and foremost, about Maine. And so, I can take off the "at MMW," for example, and just type "Maine Workshop" as the primary name of this folder. These are, of course, just a few examples to help you get a better sense of how you should think about the naming process for your folders. The particular folder structure I've created here makes sense for me personally. This might not be the way that you would name these folders even if you captured images in the exact same locations at the exact same time.

The key is to think carefully about your folder structure and to make sure that all of your folders are named appropriately and organized ideally into a single overall storage location before you import those images into Lightroom. Doing so will help make sure that the process of managing your images in Lightroom is that much easier.

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